Bob Amster

Principal, Retail Technology Group

Mr. Amster has served the retail and distribution industries as both a Consultant and Systems Manager since 1971. He currently heads The Retail Technology Group, an independent consulting firm.

Bob was a Senior Manager with the Northeast Retail Consulting Group of Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr. Amster held Systems Management positions for large retailers such as Kmart Apparel, Waldenbooks, and Caldor. In addition, he has consulted to retail, distribution, and software companies since 1985.

Bob’s hands-on experience encompasses strategic planning; operational reviews; and systems design and implementation. He specializes in needs assessments; software analyses, selection and implementation; operational procedures and process improvement; and systems integration. His project experience includes numerous engagements in the evaluation, selection and implementation of merchandising, financial, warehouse and store systems packages.

Additionally, Bob has served as interim head of IT for Barneys New York and Shane Company, and as interim head of the Store Systems Group for Savers, Inc.

Bob also has provided due diligence assistance to a number of private equity firms and has served the advisory board of retailers and of a number of e-commerce merchants, to whom he provided retail industry perspective.

  • Posted on: 12/14/2018

    H-E-B puts mobile scan and go tech in customers’ hands

    The solution seems beneficial to the customer. (Fast and self-administered.) But it is possibly detrimental to H-E-B. (How does the retailer control theft?) The Amazon Go solution purports to control theft but it is more expensive to implement. This is another wait-and-see experiment.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2018

    Does Starbucks have a big delivery opportunity?

    Starbucks delivery is a push. It might work for the non-coffee items it sells but I can't see paying delivery fees as a consumer to get a cup of coffee. Pizza, hamburgers, fried chicken, Chinese? Yes! Coffee? No!
  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Where will Amazon go with its cashier-free concept?

    Cashier-less airport stores sounds like a good match. Where more than in an airport does one need expediency? I would also guess that most business travelers are tech savvy enough to embrace it.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2018

    Will ‘Practice’ make for perfectly loyal customers at Lululemon?

    What Lululemon is doing is exactly what a membership program should do, treat customers with special privileges and keep them hooked to the company.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2018

    Will Walgreens win the prescription delivery race?

    Clearly, Walgreens' partnership with FedEx will help. Why does there have to be a winner in the prescription delivery race? As long as they are reliable and cost effective, all participants can coexist.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Are subscriptions an untapped gifting opportunity for retailers?

    Subscriptions sure to grow and, as a gift, they are a nice idea. The issue with subscriptions as a gift is whether or not they have the stickiness to be renewed by the recipient after the initial subscription expires. If the product category lends itself to stickiness (consumables, health, personal care, etc.), the subscription as a gift has a better chance of being renewed.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Walmart gives associates a tool to deal with out-of-stocks

    Often times, the customer's perception that s/he is being helped to checkout faster is enough to make it a reality. From that perspective, it is a positive move for Walmart. Additionally, if the in-store apps actually move customers through the checkout process faster, then it is a win/win. It probably does require more customer personnel.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Payless scores with mock-up luxury shop

    The stunt also brings into question whether people (influencers or other) really know quality when they see it and touch it. There is no way that Payless can deliver a $200 ($640) shoe for $20 dollars. That means that those who would pay it were either trying to be nice, as stated before, or don't know the true value of things.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Can Gap cut its way to profitability?

    "Boring basics..." Nice alliteration! The combination of too many locations and unexciting product is like a perfect storm; lots of damage! Closing the underperforming stores solves an immediate financial problem. Keeping the rest of the stores open depends on attracting customers.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Has Amazon figured out how to scale its Go cashier-free tech to bigger stores?

    Cost, cost, cost. The technology either exists or can be developed. The question is: at what cost does one implement it?
  • Posted on: 11/29/2018

    Store employees of the future will be affiliates, not associates

    I see a potential challenge in making affiliates out of associates and that is the potential return to the black book of three or four decades ago. Retailers do not want the customer to "belong" to the affiliate. They want the customer to "belong" to the retailer. If the affiliate concept can address this potential problem, the concept should work just fine.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2018

    How can retailers get customers to complete feedback surveys?

    I'm on the same wavelength as Cathy Hotka: Incentives!
  • Posted on: 11/29/2018

    Are retailers better off going cashless?

    This is a mixed bag. Retailers that do not accept cash are not, by definition, racially or otherwise biased. The discrimination is an unintended consequence of a.) attempting to streamline a process, b.) reducing exposure to theft, and c.) providing a better checkout experience to customers. My Apple Pay transactions take between 10 and 20 seconds to complete and the slowest link in the chain is the receipt printer. From another perspective, there are product categories, such as Casper's mattresses and bedding, for which a consumer would not walk in with a wad of fifties to pay for the product. The idea of a common cashless currency for those who do not have bank accounts has much merit and is, at first blush, doable. In those circumstances, the customer willing or needing to pay with that wad of fifties would just go to a kiosk-like device, insert the cash and get a stored-value card (like a gift card but omni-merchant). Like the idea, hate cash. Read about the end of the end of the era of the wallet.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2018

    Are Millennials taking advantage of retailers’ goodwill?

    Who does that, indeed? It would be a nasty mark on our society if people falsely report discontent to gain something for free. Is this the dumbing down of America? I agree with reporting issues so that a business can improve its relationship with me, and do it all the time (a personal kaizen), but never do so with the intent of gaining an advantage.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2018

    Can customer lifetime value scores work against retailers?

    Like KPIs for other parts of the business, CLV is a metric to apply to customers. What decisions a retailer makes about one, or a group of customers based on CLV is the key, not whether or not the retailer informs the consumers what their individual CLVs are. The use of CLV can be beneficial or detrimental to both the customer and the retailer. As in most cases in retail, it's about the execution.

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